The MX-5 would receive an all-new fourth-generation version in 2014, with Mazda’s KODO design language influencing its look and shape. It arrived with a choice of 1.5 or 2.0-litre engines that both used Mazda’s Skyactiv fuel-saving technology, and weighed around 100kg less than the car it replaced. A lower centre of gravity helped it recapture some of the dynamic flair many thought was missing from the third-generation car.
“There isn’t a single area in which this new Mazda MX-5 fails to surpass its predecessor,” Autocar said at the time. “It’s shorter, lighter, more spacious and better laid out. It’s sharper-looking but still disarming and distinctive. It’s faster, more frugal and even more vibrant and engaging to drive.”
A new RF (Retractable Fastback) model would join the line-up, opting for more of a targa-style approach than the NC-generation’s folding hardtop, and it would get its own six-speed automatic gearbox. Soon after, in April 2016, Mazda would sell its one millionth MX-5, 27 years after the first car rolled off production lines.
No stranger to a special edition or two, Mazda would mark the MX-5’s 30th anniversary with a limited-run model. The 30th Anniversary edition could only be had in Racing Orange, and included forged aluminium wheels, Recaro bucket seats, Bilstein suspension and Brembo front brakes – though power remained unchanged, as to give it any more would go against the philosophy of the model.
Throughout its life the Mazda MX-5 has built itself a huge fan base, thanks to its ease of use, affordability and low running costs. It’s proven popular in many forms of motorsport, and even been subject to a host of aftermarket conversions – including V8 engine swaps and forced induction systems.
The latest MX-5 remains a true testament to the original, combining jaw-dropping looks with a low kerb weight and nimble driving style. As for the future? Mazda is reportedly considering its options, with a hybrid or even fully electric powertrain for its fifth generation.